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Dan Wallace on 616 vs 666

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  • Wieland Willker
    Regarding the recent news-hype regarding the number of the beast (in POxy 4499) Dan Wallace sets the record straight at:
    Message 1 of 9 , May 10, 2005
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      Regarding the recent news-hype regarding the number of the beast (in POxy 4499) Dan Wallace sets the record straight at:

      http://www.religionnewsblog.com/11139/Daniel-B--Wallace-responds-to-article-on---the-number-of-the-Beast

      The following sentence makes me smile:
      "We are currently conducting several tests to determine whether 616 is indeed the number of the beast."

      This is funny since we don't know what the beast is, let alone what is meant by its number. So what "tests" can be carried out to check this?

      Best wishes
      Wieland
      <><
      ------------------------------------------------
      Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
      mailto:willker@...-bremen.de
      http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie
      Textcritical commentary:
      http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie/TCG/index.html
    • Dave Washburn
      ... I suspect it means they re testing whether 616 is the original text or not. Either that, or they got the name of the beast person from one of America s
      Message 2 of 9 , May 10, 2005
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        On Tuesday 10 May 2005 07:22, Wieland Willker wrote:
        > Regarding the recent news-hype regarding the number of the beast (in POxy
        > 4499) Dan Wallace sets the record straight at:
        >
        >
        > http://www.religionnewsblog.com/11139/Daniel-B--Wallace-responds-to-article
        >-on---the-number-of-the-Beast
        >
        > The following sentence makes me smile:
        > "We are currently conducting several tests to determine whether 616 is
        > indeed the number of the beast."
        >
        > This is funny since we don't know what the beast is, let alone what is
        > meant by its number. So what "tests" can be carried out to check this?

        I suspect it means they're testing whether 616 is the original text or not.
        Either that, or they got the name of the beast person from one of America's
        many self-appointed professional eschatologists and went to ask him what his
        number is (with area code, of course).........

        --
        Dave Washburn
        http://www.nyx.net/~dwashbur
        Reality is what refuses to go away when
        you stop believing in it.
      • Daniel B. Wallace
        ... Allow me to take this opportunity to clarify what I wrote, and especially what tests we are conducting to see whether 616 is the number of the beast.
        Message 3 of 9 , May 10, 2005
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          Wieland Willker wrote:

          > Regarding the recent news-hype regarding the number of the beast (in POxy 4499) Dan Wallace sets the record straight at:
          >
          > http://www.religionnewsblog.com/11139/Daniel-B--Wallace-responds-to-article-on---the-number-of-the-Beast
          >
          > The following sentence makes me smile:
          > "We are currently conducting several tests to determine whether 616 is indeed the number of the beast."
          >
          > This is funny since we don't know what the beast is, let alone what is meant by its number. So what "tests" can be carried out to check this?
          >
          > Best wishes
          > Wieland
          > <><
          > ------------------------------------------------
          > Wieland Willker, Bremen, Germany
          > mailto:willker@...-bremen.de
          > http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie
          > Textcritical commentary:
          > http://www.uni-bremen.de/~wie/TCG/index.html
          >
          >

          Allow me to take this opportunity to clarify what I wrote, and especially what tests we are conducting to see whether 616 is the number of the beast. First, the short piece on 616 that I wrote was originally sent to Canada's National Post as a letter to the editor. It was in response to the sensationalist article written by Chris Wattie. The National Post abridged the letter and published it on Friday, May 6. Two websites have also posted my letter to the editor (in fuller form than is found in the NP). The point is that my response was for a lay audience. As I read over Wieland's comments, I can understand how he could understand that I was trying to match up some person with the gematria 616! That was not my meaning, however. Second, I was not trying to determine the referent of the number; that was not the test I spoke of. Rather, I was referring to textual consanguinity tests that the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts staff are working on slowly (as a back-burner project, since our primary task right now is to digitally photograph manuscripts). In particular, my special assistant, Ivan Yong, is working on this matter. The papyrus is so fragmentary that doing this sort of work takes some time. Third, I was also referring to an examination of the data in patristic literature, for clues as to whether fathers changed the course of transmissional direction by their comments. And, of course, the well-known comments by Irenaeus to the effect that 666 was found in earlier manuscripts (which should give one pause over quickly adopting 616 as the original reading) and had a deeper spiritual significance than 616 (which should give one pause about adopting 666, since Irenaeus' influence in light of his interpretation could have swayed countless scribes to adopt 666) have to be wrestled with. As well, there is a great deal of secondary literature--from exegetical work in the Apocalypse to special studies (especially Birdsall's recent contribution [J. N. Birdsall, "Irenaeus and the Number of the Beast: Revelation 13,18" (in the Delobel Festschrift, _NT Textual Criticism and Exegesis_, ed. by A. Denaux; Leuven: U. of Leuven and Peeters, 2002, 349-359). But our principal task is textual consanguinity, including a comparison of this fragment with the three major witnesses to Revelation (A, C, Aleph).

          Finally, I do think that considerations of referentiality of the gematria are important in this matter. It is not that we can necessarily know the referent, but at least we can consider the options that late-first-century readers would have in their frontal lobes. And here, I think, 616 as referring to Nero makes good sense. Indeed, my preliminary sense is that since the Nero redivivus myth would have waned in popularity and force as the decades rolled on, it seems unlikely that a scribe in the middle of the second century (I'm referring to the manuscripts that Irenaeus would have seen, not P115 which is to be dated in the third century) would arbitrarily write 616 in Rev 13.18. Further, it seems unlikely that Irenaeus would find Nero redivivus as particularly relevant. Consequently, for a scribe to write this seems to suggest that he or she was following a more primitive tradition. That Ephraemi Rescriptus also has this number shows that the primitive tradition continued for another three centuries.

          If anyone can offer other insights for us to consider, we would gladly welcome them! In particular, the fact that Arabic numbers were neither used nor invented (?) by the first century CE at least should remind us that 666 would not be as easily remembered when written in Greek letters.

          As senior New Testament editor of the NET Bible, I have concerns about this matter for another reason as well: we want to give the right reading in our translation in Rev 13.18.


          Daniel B. Wallace
          Executive Director
          Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts
        • C. Stirling Bartholomew
          ... Could someone spell out what this means? What are you testing for and what would the test script look like? Clay Bartholomew
          Message 4 of 9 , May 10, 2005
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            On 5/10/05 10:18 AM, "Daniel B. Wallace" <csntm@...> wrote:

            > I was referring to textual consanguinity tests ...

            Could someone spell out what this means?

            What are you testing for and what would the test script look like?

            Clay Bartholomew
          • Minton, Ron
            Dan said the new fragment was the oldest from that portion of Revelation. The article he referred to said it was a likely century older than any other. I had
            Message 5 of 9 , May 10, 2005
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              Dan said the new fragment was the oldest from that portion of
              Revelation. The article he referred to said it was a likely century
              older than any other. I had thought P47 was as old as or older than
              P115 (assuming that is the papyrus the article and Dan were referring
              to). Is not the date of P115 close, perhaps later than P47?
              BTW, Aland, Text of NT, p. 90 has a photo of P47 which contains Rev.
              13:18. There the number chi xi sigma (666) is over lined.
              BTW2, On that same page, Aland says it is second century. On other
              pages he gives the usual third century date.

              Ron Minton
              -----Original Message-----
              From: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
              [mailto:textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Wieland Willker
              Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2005 9:22 AM
              To: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [textualcriticism] Dan Wallace on 616 vs 666

              Regarding the recent news-hype regarding the number of the beast (in
              POxy 4499) Dan Wallace sets the record straight at:

              http://www.religionnewsblog.com/11139/Daniel-B--Wallace-responds-to-arti
              cle-on---the-number-of-the-Beast

              The following sentence makes me smile:
              "We are currently conducting several tests to determine whether 616 is
              indeed the number of the beast."

              This is funny since we don't know what the beast is, let alone what is
              meant by its number. So what "tests" can be carried out to check this?

              Best wishes
              Wieland
              <><
            • sarban
              ... From: Daniel B. Wallace To: Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2005 6:18 PM Subject: Re: [textualcriticism] Dan
              Message 6 of 9 , May 10, 2005
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                ----- Original Message -----
                From: "Daniel B. Wallace" <csntm@...>
                To: <textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com>
                Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2005 6:18 PM
                Subject: Re: [textualcriticism] Dan Wallace on 616 vs 666


                >
                > If anyone can offer other insights for us to consider, we would gladly
                welcome them! In particular, the fact that Arabic numbers were neither used
                nor invented (?) by the first century CE at least should remind us that 666
                would not be as easily remembered when written in Greek letters.
                >
                In Roman numerals 666 is DCLXVI which is in its way
                memorable.

                Andrew Criddle
              • malcolm robertson
                Greetings all, Perhaps the evidence offered and assessed by Mr. Head will prove of value in this discussion.
                Message 7 of 9 , May 11, 2005
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                  Greetings all,
                   
                  Perhaps the evidence offered and assessed by Mr. Head will prove of value in this discussion.
                   
                   
                  The fragments POxy 4499/p115 can be seen here.
                   
                   
                  The number of the beast 616
                   
                   
                  I still personally favor the interpretation that Nero (redivius) is the prefigured type in Apoc 13:18 and as such represents all subsequent antitypes.
                   
                  Cordially in Christ,
                   
                  Malcolm
                   
                   
                   



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                • C. Stirling Bartholomew
                  ... Peter Head s statement: The reading of P115 does not actually add much to the available evidence, except to confirm one side of Irenaeus┬╣ account, and to
                  Message 8 of 9 , May 11, 2005
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                    On 5/11/05 5:49 AM, "malcolm robertson" <mjriii2003@...> wrote:

                    > Perhaps the evidence offered and assessed by Mr. Head will prove of value in
                    > this discussion.

                    Peter Head's statement:

                    "The reading of P115 does not actually add much to the available evidence,
                    except to confirm one side of Irenaeus┬╣ account, and to add some early
                    weight to the 616 reading."

                    Yesterday I read the Greek text** of Irenaeus' discussion (Against Heresies
                    V.30.1). Irenaeus pushes the date of both readings back at least a century
                    before our oldest papyri for the Apocalypse (P47, P115).

                    D.Wallace said re: testing P115
                    >... I was referring to textual consanguinity tests that the Center for the
                    > Study of New Testament Manuscripts staff are working on slowly ...

                    I don't see how "textual consanguinity tests" on P115 are going to
                    contribute to the question of 616 vs 666, since P115 doesn't tell us
                    anything that Irenaeus didn't know in the second century.

                    The tabloid flap over P115 and 616 is a tempest in a teapot.

                    Clay Bartholomew

                    **You can find the Greek citation on Irenaeus in H.B. Swete's commentary. If
                    someone desperately wants to read the Irenaeus' comments in context contact
                    me off list and I will send you a pdf.
                  • Daniel B. Wallace
                    By textual consanguinity tests I did not mean that we were focusing only on this one textual problem. Rather, we are examining all the readings of P115 in
                    Message 9 of 9 , May 11, 2005
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                      By textual consanguinity tests I did not mean that we were focusing only on this one textual problem. Rather, we are examining all the readings of P115 in comparison with all other extant MSS of Revelation to see where it lines up. Obviously, looking at a single textual problem will tell us very little.

                      Dan Wallace

                      > On 5/11/05 5:49 AM, "malcolm robertson" <mjriii2003@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > > Perhaps the evidence offered and assessed by Mr. Head will prove of value in
                      > > this discussion.
                      >
                      > Peter Head's statement:
                      >
                      > "The reading of P115 does not actually add much to the available evidence,
                      > except to confirm one side of Irenaeus1 account, and to add some early
                      > weight to the 616 reading."
                      >
                      > Yesterday I read the Greek text** of Irenaeus' discussion (Against Heresies
                      > V.30.1). Irenaeus pushes the date of both readings back at least a century
                      > before our oldest papyri for the Apocalypse (P47, P115).
                      >
                      > D.Wallace said re: testing P115
                      > >... I was referring to textual consanguinity tests that the Center for the
                      > > Study of New Testament Manuscripts staff are working on slowly ...
                      >
                      > I don't see how "textual consanguinity tests" on P115 are going to
                      > contribute to the question of 616 vs 666, since P115 doesn't tell us
                      > anything that Irenaeus didn't know in the second century.
                      >
                      > The tabloid flap over P115 and 616 is a tempest in a teapot.
                      >
                      > Clay Bartholomew
                      >
                      > **You can find the Greek citation on Irenaeus in H.B. Swete's commentary. If
                      > someone desperately wants to read the Irenaeus' comments in context contact
                      > me off list and I will send you a pdf.
                      >
                      >
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